Lay out your fiber by pulling tufts from your wool tops and laying the fiber next to each other. When laying the second row, ensure that the fiber overlaps the first row by around a half
Continue to lay at least 3 layers on top of each other to give the felt strength.
Lay each layer at 90degrees to the layer beneath it. If you look closely at the below pic, you can see the different directions of each layer peeking through at the edges.
If your felt is purely decorative, you could get away with laying only two layers. If you're making boots etc, you will want to lay more than three.
Remember, if you use different colours for each layer, they will show through and blend in the final layer (this can be seen in later pics)
Put your design on top
Lay your work onto whatever fabric you are using to felt onto.
Traditionally, the Mongolians felted their felt on the old felt they were replacing. My favorite method is to use a matchstick blind. Essentially it's the same as a really big sushi mat which also can be used for very little items. This matchstick blind was bought at a hardware store for $20.
Other materials you could use include terry-toweling or bubble wrap (although less durable). Here my group wanted to practice the method of rugmaking while still making our own individual squares to take home so we put our squares together.
Keep an eye on the square with the 3 yellow, green, and red star bursts on it.
Using hot water and soap (or any other agent to disturb the ph level eg vinegar or acid), wet the wool.
To distribute the water + soap mixture, we used a sports bottle (as seen in a later pic)
Carefully roll the wool up into the matchstick blind (or whatever else you might be using)
Tie the roll together with some spare fabric strips, and roll the package back and forth
At the beginning, don't do this for too long. The wool is still fairly loose and may begin to felt into the matchstick blind.
Unroll the package and see how your felt is beginning to develop.
Your felt should actally look a little skewed at this point, as it's only been felted in one direction.
Each time you view the felt, it should be turned 90degrees, or flipped upside down so that the whole felt is made evenly.
Re-wet the felt with hot water + soap and roll it back up again.
If the wool is laying flat and is starting to stick well together, you can be a little more vigorous with it.
As before, tie the package together with the fabric strips.
If you choose to roll using the team method as pictured below, or you're felting on the ground, wrap the package in calico, or another fabric to protect the felt from getting dirty.
Tie using more fabric strips.
In the method pictured, the leader holds a loop of rope and slowly pulls the top of the loop toward them while walking backwards, causing the package to roll toward the leader.
The team (in unison) steps on and off the package as it rolls like such: Left foot on the package, left foot on the ground. Right foot on the package, right foot on the ground. There are a number of felting songs that the Mongolian people sing while felting to keep them in time. Have the leader keep the team in time by either chanting 'left, step. right, step' or by leading a song. We had heaps of fun singing
Remember to check on your felt every 5mins or so and flip + turn the felt as needed
When the felt seems strong, take it off the matchstick blind to squish + saturate the felt.
You can use a large bucket as pictured here or if your felt is too big, a bathtub or shower base works well too. If the felt is small, this can be done with your hands, kneading the felt as if you're making bread.
The next part is to shock the fibres. This is done by slamming the felt into a hard object. Depending on it's size you can throw the felt as hard as you can onto the ground, pick it up and repeat, or hold one edge and whack the felt onto a tree, or jump hard onto the flat felt, or as we're doing here pair up and whack the felt onto the ground.
The felt should shrink significantly in this stage and become much more hard and durable.
I'm always surprised that wet felting can make such delicate items despite it's brutal treatment when being made!
This last step is to smooth the felt out and remove the last excess of water.
Lay the felt out and starting at one edge, roll the felt onto a pole. Broom handles work well.
Just as before, rotate + flip the felt periodically to ensure that it's even
.....And voila! Felt!
Look at the square with the 3 yellow, green, and red star bursts on it. Because the middle layer was red, the fibres have mixed with the white to color the background of the felt pink with a white glow.
The felt should take a day or so to dry properly.
After admiring our felt, we cut the squares into our separate projects
Phew this took a while to type up!
Feel free to ask questions or pick up on my errors.
Hopefully this helps a few people out